Thursday, September 12, 2013

DragonCon: Star Trek The Next Generation Panel

Greetings, fellow nerds! (I'm just going to assume for the sake of that opener that we're all nerds here. If you aren't feel free to go read something more in line with your tastes).

I just got flew in from Atlanta and boy are my arms tired! Ok, fine, I've actually been back for about a week, but you haven't heard from me because I almost immediately went back out of town. This is actually pretty much the regular state of things for the next few weeks, so stop complaining and be happy I can post at all.

That sounded way bitchier than I intended.

Anyhoodle, I'm back for now and it's time to catch you up on the amazing television-related fun I had recently at DragonCon, a huge pop culture, multi-media, gaming, comics, sci-fi, etc. etc. convention in Atlanta every year over Labor Day weekend. There are panels for everything and television is definitely well represented--specifically sci-fi and fantasy themed television.

As we wander in the wasteland between now and the start of the Fall tv season (which is actually coming a lot sooner than you think), I am going to post about all the panels at DragonCon that I think might be relevant to your interests. First up....Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG).

This panel was on my must-view list, especially since it contained my favorite Star Trek actor of all time. No, it's not Patrick Stewart or George Takei (wrong Star Trek, people), but John de Lancie, who played the omnipotent Q. He was fun evil, funny, enigmatic, and everything awesome. And because I am a kind tv blogger who loves my reading audience, I took notes!

There was a surprisingly large number of questions for John de Lancie about his other acting work, especially his voice acting. Hopefully you are aware that he voiced a popular character on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The character was essentially Q (in pony form) and he told an amusing anecdote about how he had never heard of the show when his agent called and told him they wanted him on the show. He was surprised how good the show was when he read the script, went in and recorded for the episode and promptly forgot about it. Until the episode aired and his email blew up with people freaking out over how amazing it was and how great the character was (by the way--the people emailing him were not little girls, they were bronies). Since that first episode, he has come back 4 or 5 times and will even sing a song in an upcoming episode. Later, de Lancie learned from the creators that his pony character was actually inspired by Q and the network had specifically requested that he do the voice.

John de Lancie was also asked about his recent work on Breaking Bad. He talked about how terrific the writing is and what "consummate actors" Brian and Aaron are (though referring to actors that way kind of seems like a cliche to me). He also mentioned that when the writing is that good, all you have to do as an actor is get out of the way of the words.

Moving on to Brent Spiner, he was asked how he felt about the ending of the last TNG movie, Nemesis. Spoiler alert: Data dies (gasp!) but there is a second Data called B4 (beta Data?) who could have conceivably carried any Data-centric story-lines. The ending of Nemesis was fairly controversial among the fans with most people basically hating it. But Spiner said that he was fine about the demise of Data and figured the writers would always find a way to bring him back in the next movie. And in the end, since there did not end up being another movie, it became a big dramatic moment for Data.

Someone also asked Spiner about the rumor that he never actually watched a full episode of ST:TNG. He responded that he did watch some of the earlier episodes...but just flat ran out of time to watch in the later years. Suuuuuuuure.

Marina Sirtis also had some really interesting things to say about the character of Troi throughout the run of the show. She mentioned that if you go back and look at it, Troi was actually always right when she warned Picard against some course of action....but he more often than not ignored her. Sirtis also complained that Troi often had stupid lines (her words, not mine) along the line of "He's hiding something." On one memorable occasion she said her line to Patrick Stewart ("he's hiding something") and Stewart shot back, "We know that, you stupid cow." Apparently she got all up in his face calling him "Your Majesty" and he had to go and hide behind Brent Spiner. She's a spirtfire, that Marina Sirtis.

Other random Troi-related facts: the only time you saw her real hair was in the pilot (when it was all frizzy). After that, it was wigs. Also, the development of Troi as a character throughout the series is kind of fascinating. She basically went from mere window-dressing to a full-fledged officer. Sirtis notes that Gene Rodenberry wanted a counselor as a prominent member of the crew to show the importance of both mental and physical health to the society of the future. But then the writers didn't really know what to do with her. It was only when Denise Crosby left the show and Troi was the only woman left on the bridge that the writers really started thinking more about her character.

In closing, I just want to say that it was a real thrill seeing these actors in person. Say what you want about Star Trek, it was my first fandom and the first concrete thing I can remember having in common with my brother. In fact, we still bond over it to this day. It was also fun sitting in the room surrounded by other Trek fans--and since it was DragonCon, you know a lot of them had really fun costumes.

 Trek cosplayers march in the DragonCon parade on Saturday morning.

 Coming up next: the Buffy the Vampire Slayer panel!


Arsenic Pie said...

OMG! So, I totally called that was John deLancie the first time I saw his episode of MLP. I was like, "That sounds like Q...OMG. I think that IS Q." Then I looked at the credits and I was, "That is totally Q!" Although, it does also bug me when actors call their famous actor colleagues by their first names. I don't know why it bugs me. But I feel you on that.

"Sirtis notes that Gene Rodenberry wanted a counselor as a prominent member of the crew to show the importance of both mental and physical health to the society of the future. But then the writers didn't really know what to do with her."

You don't say. I was watching one of those "parallel Enterprise" episodes the other day, and they had different crews on the different ships in the different dimensions, and Troi was useless IN ALL of the dimensions.

Maggie Cats said...

And I kind of hated that there "go to" Troi plot was that she gets mind raped.

I mean, COME ON.

It was pretty badass when she became an officer later in the series though and got to wear an actual uniform. And started fucking Worf. Go, girl!

Arsenic Pie said...

I love how in the Star Trek futurescape, the utopian future is still mind-blowingly sexist.